One of the great joys of spending time outdoors in winter is the refreshing winter air. It just feels clean and makes you want to go exploring! By dressing properly, you’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
In winter, clothing has three main functions:
1. To keep you warm – I know, you already figured that one out.
2. To keep you dry – moisture is like a super highway for the cold.
3. To block the wind – just like lawyers, the wind will do it’s best to suck the heat right out of your body.
The good news is that we have many ways to defeat the triumverate of discomfort (cold, wet, wind).
•Dress in layers. As the weather or your activity level changes, you will be able to adjust and stay comfortable. That giant puffball jacket is great for sedentary pursuits, but layers are where it’s at for being active.
•Like a well built house, your winter comfort relies on a solid foundation. In this case synthetic or wool long underwear will get you off to a great start. Synthetics and wool will help wick moisture away from your skin and retain some of their ability to keep you warm if they do get wet. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds on to it until it evaporates – I shiver just thinking about it!
•Next, a warm turtleneck, sweater or fleece to insulate your top half.
•For the bottom half, water and wind resistant pants are preferable. Snow or ski pants are ideal because they repel water. Once again, avoid cotton and avoid sweat pants at all costs!
•A water and wind resistant jacket or shell tops off the upper half. Score bonus points if it has a hood.
•Don’t forget your feet! The cold will take advantage of them as a way to creep in. A pair of warm wool or synthetic socks is best. This is probably the worst place of all for cotton.
•Water resistant boots that are high enough to keep the snow out. This one is tough to get around. Wet feet = cold feet = cold everything else.
•Sun protection is very important in the winter. Snow reflects the sun like one of those shiny things people use to cook themselves at the beach. Be sure to have quality sunglasses as well as sun screen that blocks 100% of the UV spectrum.
•Gloves or mittens? Mittens are warmer because your fingers can share the heat. Whether you choose gloves or mittens, make sure they are water resistant. Knit gloves and mittens may look cozy, but they are little refrigerators when they get wet – and they will get wet.
•Cover up your melon! You lose a lot of heat through your head so wear a hat that covers your ears. Hat hair is way better than hypothermia.
Wive’s tales that actually work on some level (but we don’t necessarily endorse):
1. Rub a little powdered red pepper on your hands and feet. The upside: It causes increased blood flow that will temporarily warm them up. The downside: get it in your eyes and you will know the true meaning of hot. Your mileage may vary.
2. Put plastic bread wrappers over your socks before putting your shoes on. The upside: In theory they prevent moisture from getting in and sweat from evaporating out. The downside: your feet will get a bit clammy and your boots may not feel very snug on your feet.
That wasn’t so bad, was it? Follow these simple suggestions and you’ll open the door to a whole world of winter fun that others only dream about.